Grand Canyon elementary school gets connected

The National Indian Programs Training Center’s (NIPTC) Enhanced Learning and Knowledge Network (ELKNet) has installed its 150th satellite uplink. ELKNet is charged with delivering distance learning to schools, federal agencies, and juvenile detention centers located in remote areas, where many Native Americans live and go to school. Havasupai Elementary School, located in the heart of the Grand Canyon, is the latest site to be connected.

“Education is a key component of successfully building Nation-to-Nation relationships and promoting safe communities in Indian Country,” said Larry Echohawk, assistant secretary of Indian Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior. “ELKNet creates professional development, training, and educational opportunities throughout Indian Nations, delivering on the Administration’s promise to increase federal collaboration with Tribal Nations and to promote activities that reduce crime in Indian Country.”

The uplink was installed by Hughes Network Systems, which provides managed network services for ELKNet, enabling real-time distance education via satellite. Courses and workshops are developed by NIPTC instructors and shared through Interactive Television with one-way video and two-way audio services. Hughes ultimately will manage distance education for Tribal Nations at 205 sites across 25 states.

Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, NIPTC is a national training center for several federal Indian bureaus and a member of the Government Education and Training Network (GETN), a group of federal agencies that share distance learning services. Hughes was awarded the task order to provide managed network services for GETN under the U.S. General Services Administration’s contract in April 2008.

"This Grand Canyon installation—much like the other installations under the ELKNet program—demonstrates that effectively managed satellite networks can deliver connectivity everywhere in the United States,” said Tony Bardo, assistant vice president for government solutions at Hughes. "It also demonstrates the capability of satellite services to enhance the lives of remote and rural communities.”